The Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health) announced earlier this week that it activated the prevention protocols against the new coronavirus that emerged in China and is already present in various countries.

Passengers wear protective masks to protect against the spread of the Coronavirus as they arrive at the Los Angeles International Airport, California, on January 22, 2020. A new virus that has killed nine people, infected hundreds and has already reached the US could mutate and spread, China warned on January 22, as authorities urged people to steer clear of Wuhan, the city at the heart of the outbreak. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)

“Activation” is implementing measures, mainly information, for health professionals, and the Ministry following up on international cases and investigations that come up on the subject. However, people who have symptoms of respiratory distress and who were in recent days in China, Japan, Thailand or South Korea are also asked to seek medical attention and report the case to local health authorities.

Important to note that despite several reports from not so reliable media sources (we won’t mention them here), there are no suspected cases of coronavirus in Costa Rica.

Salud confirms, through its social networks, “at this time we do NOT have any suspected cases of coronavirus 2019-nCov in our country.”

The clarification came after rumors that affirm the existence of an alleged case in an older adult who would be in isolation. Salud reiterates that this is false. Nor is it true that there are three “isolated” patients at the San Rafel Hospital in Alajuela.

Once again, the authorities insist that the cold flu is not synonymous with the coronavirus.

Costa Rica has no direct flights from China or any Asian country. The majority of arrivals to Costa Rica are from the United States, where passengers arriving from China are being screened.

Daniel Salas, the Minister of Health, said, “The Ministerio de Salud remains attentive to the advances in the investigation of the disease to guide decision-making in order to protect the public health of the country.”

“The health system in Costa Rica has protocols and procedures that allow facing these epidemiological alerts. In the same way that the influenza virus AH1N1 and SARS-CoV was processed, what is appropriate is the disclosure of the protocol of action for health care centers,” added Salas

Coronaviruses

The World Health Organization (WHO) has yet to declare the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak as a global health emergency after a Wednesday meeting, despite the entire city of Wuhan going under quarantine to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“There is no evidence of human to human transmission outside China, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen,” director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference. “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds that include diarrhea in cows and pigs, and upper respiratory disease in chickens. In humans, the virus causes respiratory infections, which are often mild, but in rare cases are potentially lethal. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs that are approved for prevention or treatment.

According to the general recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of the coronavirus strain include cough, shortness of breath and fever. In more serious cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure.

The WHO recommends taking the following measures to prevent respiratory illnesses from spreading:

  • Frequent hand washing.
  • Cook food properly.
  • Avoid close contact with people with symptoms of respiratory diseases.
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze protocol.
  • In case of symptoms of respiratory disease during or after a trip to China, seek medical attention and share your travel history with the health provider.

For those who will soon travel to China and especially Hubei province, avoid approaching people with respiratory symptoms, crowded spaces and farm animals. Additionally, while the coronavirus is being investigated, it is recommended to consume only well-cooked food.